Commerce Secretary William Daley announced today that Minnesota Technology Inc. will receive a total of $358,000 in federal funding to help small manufacturers in the state deal with the year 2000 computer problem.
Minnesota Technology Inc. is affiliated with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
"Small manufacturers in Minnesota, and throughout the country, need to pay attention to this potential problem today," said Daley. "If they do not, they risk losing their customers and income," he said. Minnesota's 9,000 manufacturing companies employ over 430,000 workers with an annual payroll of $13 billion. Manufacturing produces $27 billion worth of goods, the largest share of Minnesota's gross product.
Minnesota Technology Inc. President Jacques Koppel said his organization will use the funding to support Y2K action planning and consultation programs which are helping small manufacturers identify and assess potential Y2K problems, develop contingency plans, and plan and manage remediation projects. In addition to offering statewide Y2K workshops, Minnesota Technology also has established a Y2K Help Center to answer questions and distribute Y2K Jumpstart Information Kits. Minnesota Technology's Y2K Team also will be available to conduct on-site assessments for small companies, and businesses will be able to use a special computer lab to test software and hardware prior to installation.
The year 2000 date problem, often called Y2K or the millennium bug, refers to the failure of a computer program or system because the "00" year designation is misinterpreted or mistaken for 1900. The Stamford, Conn.-based GartnerGroup, a leading authority on information technology issues; the National Federation of Independent Business; and other organizations have reported that many small businesses have not yet taken steps to address year 2000 problems. Many that are addressing problems with their computer systems may be overlooking potential problems embedded in other systems such as machine controllers and building control systems.
NIST MEP is a nationwide network of manufacturing extension centers providing a wide array of business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2,000 manufacturing and business advisers whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits and enhanced global competitiveness.
For more information on Y2K or other services, small manufacturers can call 1-800-MEP-4MFG (637-4634) or 1-800-338-7005 to reach Minnesota Technology Inc. or visit the MEP web sites at www.mep.nist.gov or www.minnesotatechnology.org.
Minnesota Technology, Inc. is a public, non-profit corporation established to assist Minnesota companies become more competitive through the application and development of technology.
NIST, an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.
In recognition of small manufacturers' extraordinary contributions to the economic strength and well-being of the United States, the U.S. Department of Commerce has declared 1999 as "The Year of the Small Manufacturer." Throughout 1999, NIST MEP and its network of centers are planning a series of events to celebrate the achievements of small manufacturers.